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Congress May End Contractor Blacklist

Congress is poised to overturn rules mandating a public “blacklist” of federal contractors who have pending and settled labor charges against them.

The rules stemmed from a 2014 Obama executive order mandating changes regarding federal contractors which was stayed by a federal court late last year (AA, 11-15-16, P. 4).

Under the rules most federal contractors would have been required to file reports about any and all labor-related enforcement actions and lawsuits they were involved in over the previous three years.

This would cover 14 federal statutes and executive orders, and similar state laws. Firms bidding on federal contracts of $500,000 or more were required to report all administrative merits determinations, arbitral awards, or decisions and civil judgments.

Employers argued that the rules would have created a blacklist blocking companies on it from obtaining government contracts. In addition, the list would be made public, which would have made it a boon to labor unions and tort lawyers.

The rules also prohibit mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements with employees, and require certain disclosures to independent contractors and employees about their status, wages and hours.

Earlier this month the House of Representatives approved a resolution of disapproval to overturn the rules under the Congressional Review Act.

A similar resolution is before the Senate. If passed by the Senate and signed by the President, the regulations will be nullified in their entirety.

The CRA resolution also will preclude any future attempt to create regulations requiring similar procurement prohibitions and disclosures.

North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx, chair of the House Education and Workforce Committee, called the Executive Order “an unnecessary layer of red tape” because federal agencies already have the tools needed to ensure contractors’ compliance with their legal obligations.

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